Soldiers Assault Members of COVID-19 Oommittee, RRS Personnel, Kill1, Injure 4 in Borno

By Sadiq Abubakar, The Nigerian Voice, Maiduguri

One RRS personnel has been reported dead and four others injured as soldiers attached to the 7 Division, Nigerian Army , Maimalari Cantonment Maiduguri assaulted members of the Borno State High Powered Committee on COVID-19 enforcing the interstate lockdown order at Auno security Checkpoint Saturday evening.

Speaking to Journalists at the scene on the incident, the Borno State Deputy Governor who is also the Chairman of the COVID-19 Reapinse High Committee, Alhaji Usman Umar Kadaffur strongly frowned at the misconduct and misbehaviour of the Nigerian soldiers at the check point.

He also condemned in totality the manner the soldiers behaved and created an ugly scene or incident while describing the incident as “very unfortunate”, pointing out that , when the incident was reported to him, he quickly alerted the Garrison Commander to come to the scene in order bring the situation under control and restore peace.

“In a situation like this, you have to look at the psyche of the individuals involved because it maybe me that is attacked tomorrow,” Kadaffur said.

He however, called on the military authorities to investigate the matter with a view to forestall future reocurrence.

The State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Aliyu Kwaya Bura also speaking to newsmen said, the soldiers pointed a gun at him after even identifying himself, threatening him

According to him, the soldiers equally forced all the motorists to come into the town without undergoing any COVID-19 test, stressing that, it was an action that could jeopardise the efforts of the state government in preventing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic in the state while the state has so far recorded more than 400 coronavirus cases in the past few months.

“Yesterday alone, more than 40 persons who travelled into the state were COVID-19 positive. This prompted the committee’s decision to come and impose the lockdown on this road today,” Kwaya Bura said.

The State Attorney General, Barrister Kaka Shehu Lawal, and State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Aliyu Salihu Kwaya Bura were earlier at the scene of the incident as members of the COVID-19 Response Team and witnessed everything.

Speaking to Journalists at the Auno security Checkpoint Saturday evening, scene of the incident, Barrister Kaka Shehu claimed that the soldiers forced their way through the barricade pulling down the barricades mounted by the COVID-19 Response Team to prevent travellers into Maiduguri that were not in essential duty as the rules and guidelines demanded

The Justice Commissioner aded that the soldiers who were in three Hilux gun trucks and claimed to be on a mission to repel Boko Haram attack in Gubio forcefully penetrated through the convoy of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) that lined up enforcing the lockdown at the checkpoint damaging some of the security patrol vehicles of the RRS who were with the Deputy Govenror, Alhaji Usman Umar Kadafur as the Chairman and Leader of the COVID-19 Response Team.

Kaka Shehu said that the extent and effect of the collision on the RRS Hilux vehicles by the road side at the check point made one of the RRS vans to summersault terribly leading to the killing of one of the RRS personnel and injuring of three other security personnel.

According to him, "After hitting the vehicle, the soldiers pointed their guntrucks at us and began assaulting us. One of the soldiers looked at me and told me “to hell with democracy, useless democracy.

“Others raised their guns at us, while one of them removed the cap of a policeman attached to the team. A cameraman attached to the team from the Deputy Governor’s office was also attacked and beaten while his camera was seized by the soldiers,” Kaka Shehu said.

He further noted that despite the humiliation, he appealed to the RRS armed policemen to be patient and exercise some restraint and remain calm because the soldiers assaulted the RRS policemen on duty at the scene of the incident.

He said," Why we stood our ground at the scene was to call on journalists and the military authorities to come and witness what was happening so they could bring an end to the impunity."

“As Nigerians, the mission and vision of the Buhari-led administration and also the Chief of Army Staff, is to save the lives and property of the people. So we cannot just allow a chunk of military men to cause any form of harassment when people are there on their official responsibility,” Kaka Shehu added

In his reaction, the Division 7 Garrison Commander, NA Maimalari Cantonment Maiduguri, Brigadier General Sunday Igbinomwanhia deeply apologised to the State High Response Team on COVID-19 members over the incident and promised that such will not repeat itself.

General Sunday however pledged that the Nigerian Army will constitute a panel of Inquiry to investigate the matter while assuring that anybody found guilty would be punished accordingly without fear or favour.

It will be recalled that it took the efforts of the State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Usman Kadafur, and the Garrison Commander, 7 Division NA Maimalari Cantonment Maiduguri, Brigadier General Sunday Igbinomwanhia to bring the situation under control for over an hour.